Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

As I wrote last night, with dark humor but very seriously, the iron law of 21st century Israeli politics is that in the final analysis Netanyahu always wins and becomes the next Prime Minister. As indeed, he has. Another fairly fixed rule is that Israeli election nights end better for the right than they begin. This goes all the way back to 1996, with Netanyahu himself.

The simple fact is that there is a not terribly large but hard and durable rightwing majority in Israel. The Israeli Knesset has 120 members. So you need 61 seats to form a government. Recent elections have all gotten just a bit over 60. Yesterday’s election appears to have netted Likud and its ‘natural partners’ 65 seats.

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We’re getting the first exit polls out of today’s election in Israel. And they are showing unexpected strength for Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party over Netanyahu’s Likud. It seems clear Gantz’s is doing better than expected. But it’s less clear whether he’s ahead. And if he is ahead the coalition of the right still seems larger, even though a number of parties on the right appear to have come under the electoral threshold. If this seems hyper-cautious, I’ve learned over time, Netanyahu always ends up winning. It’s a law of nature. But things look to be turning out at least a bit differently.

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We’ll have the video shortly. But in his brief comments this morning, President Trump said this: Ending child separation is “why you see many more people coming. They’re coming like it’s a picnic. Because let’s go to Disneyland.”

The testimony so far this morning has basically confirmed what we’ve suspected about Bill Barr’s plan to release as little of the Mueller Report as possible. He said he has no plans to seek the public release of secret grand jury materials, despite the fact that there’s ample precedent for doing so. Indeed, he specifically invoked that DC Circuit Court ruling from last week which appeared to give him cover to refuse the release of any grand jury material.

What’s important to note here is that there are very narrow and very expansive ways to interpret what counts as grand jury testimony. Is it just specific quotations from witnesses? Or is it portions of the Report that significantly rely on or stem from grand jury testimony? There’s a history to both approaches.

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In recent years we’ve witnessed the increasing ideological marriage of the Israeli Likud and the American GOP. Nor is it just ideological and cultural. There is increasingly transnational cooperation, with longtime Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu frequently intervening in US politics on Republicans’ behalf. But Likud took a big step today adopting more or less wholesale GOP ‘voter fraud’ tactics to suppress minority voters.

Today is election day in Israel, an election the right again seems likely to win by a narrow but decisive margin. But the big story of the day in the Israeli press is Likud sending party activists to Arab majority precincts with hidden cameras to monitor “voter fraud.” The party reportedly distributed 1200 hidden cameras to activists.

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We’ve got a potentially big news day tomorrow – mostly focusing on congressional testimony. At 9:30 AM and 10 AM Attorney General Bill Barr and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will appear before the the respective subcommittees of the House Appropriations subcommittee. They both have a lot we’d like answered on the Mueller Report and President Trump’s taxes. But it’s possible they’ll punt, arguing that that’s not what these hearings are about. These are appropriations hearing, budgeting and management of their departments.

Meanwhile the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing about White Nationalism. That’s also at 10 AM.

The witness list for the White Nationalism hearing is as follows.

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So what’s going on here exactly? A few days ago the acting director and nominee to run ICE had his nomination pulled. Now we have Secretary Nielsen fired apparently for not being willing to push the President’s demands, which appear to have been illegal. We also have the firing the Director of the Secret Service. The chief lawyer at DHS is also reportedly on the way out, as is the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

This article just out from CNN suggests that behind the scenes over recent weeks Trump has been insisting on various immigration crackdown policies that would in many case clearly break the law. It sounds like that is what got Nielsen fired, though not in an honorable way. If CNN’s report is to be believed, she was willing to kinda break the law, just not do so as much as Trump wanted.

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There’s always something more going on when we have these periods of maximal chaos coming out of the White House. There’s a lot of stuff contained in this article that just dropped from CNN. But there’s a remarkable passage. When he was at the border last week Trump reportedly told agents to stop allowing migrants to come across the border. After the President left, supervisors had to tell the agents that if they followed the President’s order they’d be breaking the law.

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